My research at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) at North Richmond Community Health (NRCH), Melbourne explored the impact of the proliferation of mobile and wearable health technologies, and how these developments were reconfiguring power relations, relationships and practices in health care through the lens of health literacy, consumer participation and cultural competence/safety.
Providing culturally competent services and communicating in culturally appropriate ways are necessary components of health literacy as they provide the conditions for allowing consumers and communities to engage in health and health care (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care [ACSQHC], 2014, p.27). You can listen to this interview about my research with Wearable Technology Australia (WTA). While at CEH, I worked with Suneel Jethani and Danny Butt from the Research Unit in Public Cultures (RUPC) at Melbourne University to develop a research program on the use of patient-generated data in community health. Wearable technology platforms are dominated by the English-speaking middle-classes, (“the wealthy, worried and well” as Michael Paasche-Orlow suggests), limiting the community benefits of enhanced participation and health. The diffusion of mobile phones (that can also be used as health monitoring devices) indicates that these technologies will expand to a wider range of users.
We organised a seminar and stakeholder consultation, supported by the Better Health Channel and the Research Unit in Public Cultures (RUPC) at Melbourne University in 2016 to explore how wearables can act as a form of participatory media, where client-generated information has the potential to inform care decisions, enhance consumer engagement and promote shared decision making. I also supervised three students doing the Health IT Project (ISYS90079) at the Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre (HaBIC) Research Centre in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne. The focus of their projects were barriers and enablers to the uptake of wearable health technologies among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities.
In February 2017, we held a pilot workshop on maternal digital literacies and the resulting manuscript has been published. I am indebted to Youkyoung Lee, Bhargavi Battala and Olympia Loupis who volunteered with me on this project. You can read our journal article Participatory Research Methods for Investigating Digital Health Literacy in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities published in Conjunctions. Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation. We also produced a report for the Better Health Channel.